The African American Culture and Traditions A Research Study and Facts That Will Take Us Into What Makes This Culture So Unique. Jeanette C. Council Dr. Jefferson Rackley COUN 504 5 May 2012 Liberty University Abstract The purpose of this research is to identify the uniqueness and diversity of people and practices of the African American culture. Each culture in life has some similarities and some differences. The similarities and differences that are present in a culture is what make the culture what it is.
When dealing with a culture, race, ethnicity, of a people or religion it has a history of where it originates and or a heritage that that culture or people can relate to and always go back to, because this is what sets a group apart from the next. We will look at the key factors that contribute to family patterns found in my family of origin, which is the Jewish culture. We will also compare and contrast the similarities and differences between my family origins, which is that of the African American origin. Introduction There are many cultural groups and ethnicities in the world.
Each and every person has a background and culture in which they come from, derive, or exist into. We don’t have any control over whether or not we have one culture in our families or many, but that’s what makes us diverse or unique and that’s what gives us the culture African American, Jewish, Asian, or Latino. As I have read and researched many diverse cultures during this course, it has taught me a lot about culture and having respect for mine as well as anyone else’s. We define the word culture “as the totality of the human experience for social contexts.
I was able to search and find four generations in my family tree on my mother and father’s side of the family. My family consists of a mother, a father, four sisters and one brother. One pattern in particular that I notice in my family is that there is a history of preachers and pastors stemming from my father’s side of the family, but as far as I can see the ministry started with my father. My mother’s side of the family has strong roots in the church and of being saved for long periods of time.
The one most characteristic that I can remember is that my parents both took us to church, bible study, Sunday school, and any service that could go on in the course of the week. My father was not only a preacher, but also a pastor for all my life. Now my brother is an ordained elder as well as my sister and myself. I not only have preachers in my immediate family but I have several cousins in my family that are preachers and pastors. I believe that not only were we called into the ministry; the culture that began in my father trickled down to us. It was a behavior that was taught to them and it continued in us.
We were taught how to love the Lord and how to be saved. Once we were taught the way to go then my parents help us to practice this behavior on a regular basis and it became a part of our daily life, even at a young age. What was taught to us is now a way of living; it is not forced but a true way of life. Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. I like what is said from mental health professionals, “Mental health professionals are increasingly aware that a strong spiritual base can enhance personal resilience.
The values, including sensitivity to others’ feelings, responsibility for one’s actions, personal fulfillment and satisfaction, self-discipline, forgiveness of others, healthy sexual fulfillment, and striving for a sense of purpose”(Bergin, 1991). As I think about this pattern I think about how my parents taught us the way in which we should live as well as teaching us the ways of God. Now that both parents are deceased, the understanding and truth about our beliefs and choice of a relationship with God came from the values, strengths and beliefs that have been instilled in each and every one of my sisters and brother.
The African American Culture As I researched and talked to relatives concerning my background, heritage and culture, it made me want to know more about my family and where it all began. I had fun putting Together my family tree or Genogram and I see why it is important to know who we are and where we come from. I am an African American and both my parents are of African American decent. In the African American culture, many of our ancestors came to America by capture and not by choice.
It is said that many African Americans were slaves and were a part of slave trade that was increased between the 15th and 19th centuries (Bennett, 2003; Van Sertima, 1976). Many African Americans were brought here to make their white or European owners money and cause them to be prosperous in areas of agriculture. There were white indentured servants, who could have worked to till the ground and make the harvest plentiful, but it wasn’t enough, so plantation owners saw it profitable to use African slaves as a solution to the problem (Zinn, 2003, p. 5). My father grew up in Alabama, which is known as the Deep South and he experienced more racial discrimination then did my mother. My father grew up poor and lack things that we as the fourth generation did not. My father always said that he would provide and make sure that we had a better life then what he had to experience. I also know that my father’s side of the family were sharecroppers and was a part of several other sharecroppers that were denied aide for their crops during times when racial discrimination was on the rise.
Everything during that time was considered bad if your skin color was dark or black and if your skin color was light or white you were considered good or superior according to European Americans. Not only was black or dark skin considered inferior or bad, but European American were said to be Christian and black or dark skin was considered non-Christian. “Prejudice against skin color became the justification for brutality and hatred, and racism became important in building the nations of the Americas” (Zinn, 2003). One important aspect of the African American culture I would say would be that of the Underground Railroad.
This was an important way out for many slaves in African American history. There is no way those we call African Americans could talk about slavery or being free without talking about the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad, lead by Harriet Tubman, was a way of freedom, or in other words a network that helped escaped slaves to make their way to the free states as well as Canada. “Between 1810 and 1860 as many as 100,000 enslaved African Americans were guided to freedom by the workers of the network, such as William Wells Brown, and Josiah Henson” (Koslow, 1999).
Another great leader and activist for the African American culture would be that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Martin Luther King was not only an activist and a leader for African American, but he was also a minister and pastor in the Baptist church, which is a pattern of my family background and culture. His children also walked in his footsteps, as did my sisters and brother in my father’s footsteps in the ministry. One cannot be apart of such a great movement and not be affected by it in a positive way. I know that my father as well as Martin Luther King Jr. ould be pleased to know that the values, beliefs and morals that they instilled in us did not go in vain or return void. I believe the culture that I grew up in and around help strengthen my faith and belief I God. We not only grew up in a household with these values and morals, but in our culture there was not too many people in our family that were not saved and had a relationship with the Lord. If I went to my aunt’s house I was around salvation and a strong belief system that God is in charge of my life. If I went to my great grandmother’s house it was the same.
We all shared this belief in common, a relationship with the Lord and a belief that God was the head of each of our lives. I learned at an early age to love the Lord and study to know why I believed in what I believed. I believe that on a personal level, the cultural values and systems that were instilled in me at an early age help to make me the person that I am now. I believe that being a Christian has caused me to be a lover of people, all people and regardless of their religion or background it has caused me to be open-minded.
My father has always been a helper of people and he has always loved people no matter what and I truly thank God for that. I remember when I was a young child; my father would bring people to the house, all kinds of people. He did not mind and he did not care what the socio economic status of the person was, whether or not they were bi-racial, pregnant out of wedlock or an alcoholic, it did not matter to him. Now that I am writing this paper, it is giving me nothing but revelation into my true destiny in counseling. I know that my father was a counselor as well as all the other titles and positions that he held.
I always knew at an early age, or during my teenage years that I was to help people. I know that because my father was the way he was it manifested into my siblings and myself. My sisters and brother and myself are natural helpers and counselors now that I think about it, wow! I never really thought about it this way until I began to write this paper. My mother would always be hesitant when my father would bring all types of people home. I remember one Christmas when my father brought home a distant relative that was an alcoholic, and he sat right beside me at the dinner table.
On another occasion my father was on his way home, and he saw a couple standing at a bus stop arguing, they were young and the girl was pregnant, my father stop to talk to them and he ended up bringing them home and he ministered to them. He gave them money to get to where they were going and took them back to the bus station to get back home. My mother would always tell my father how nervous she was because he would not care who he brought into the house around us, but he was concerned about their well-being and their soul.
He was a prime example of the word of God when it tells us: “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). I now see the same characteristics that were in my father. I believe that I am a helper by nature. I currently work as a high school teacher, and they remind me each and everyday that I am supposed to be counseling. I guess they see the natural instinct of the gift of helps in me and they utilize it everyday, and I enjoy helping and counseling them. Spirituality has historically been an important factor in the lives of Africans.
There was a myth that Africans did not have God and was without a sense of spirituality, but this is not true, this myth was made up by the slave owners and those that had anything to do with bringing slaves her to America. This myth was put out to make slave owners consciences to be at ease and to allow them to feel better about what they were doing (Billingley, 1992). Other Culture Patterns There are some other culture patterns that I have noticed in my background in the fourth generations that I have not seen in any other generation in my family, and that is in the area of divorce.
I have divorced almost 4 years now, my sister is divorced, my brother is divorced, but now remarried, and two of my first cousins are now divorced, and one of those cousins has been divorced twice. I not only see this as a pattern, but I am wondering if it is a generational curse somewhere in the family line. This is not a part of my culture in particular, the things that I have learned from my parents as far as relationships and family is concerned is not about divorce. We have an example of longevity in marriages, and they are still together until this day.
As far as a counseling aspect would be, I would be able to encourage longevity as well to my clients. I believe that there are so many issues in relationships today that cause people to stray away from the family unit and break ties easier than hen my parents were alive. It was our heritage to stay together and love no matter what, that’s the heritage that I grew up around. One thing I remember was my parent being in love and if there was a problem or situation that was troubling, they didn’t let us know about it. I believe that the day and time we live in today is so unlike the day and time when my parents were married and living.
I believe it is a generational aspect that allows couples to leave so easy instead of staying together, it was unheard of then and the relatives that I have that are still married now are still married from the third generation. I want to be like my parents were in my next marriage. Another pattern I see in my family is a biological one. That pattern is multiple births; this is a generational characteristic in my family. Multiple births have been seen throughout the generations in my family, stating with my great – great aunt. During a time when doctors could not detect multiple births, it was not known until a woman gave birth.
During that time my great-great aunt had multiple births, some triplets and some twins, but she would lose them at the time she was due to give birth because of the technology that is here no was not here then and doctors could not prepare for the births that were to take place. I have twins throughout my family now, I have a cousin from the third generation that had two sets of twins that are two boys, and then she had a boy and girl, fraternal twins. My mother has a twin sister, who is also fraternal twins, and my mother had twins fraternally, which is my brother Jevon, and my sister Jewel.